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Aussie school trials use of gadgets in exams

I don't know the answer - can I phone a friend?

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Using notes during exams - aka cheating - usually gets you an instant 'F'. But at one Australian school the pupils can now use mobiles, iPods and the internet during their exams.

Presbyterian Ladies' College in Sydney is running a trial among year nine English students, allowing them to access information from the net, speak to friends by mobile phone and listen to podcasts during a series of 40-minute tasks.

For example, one session asked pupils to discuss Martin Luther King's “I have a dream” speech. They were allowed to search for information about the speech online and get friends’ points of view, but the girls were only marked on use of persuasive language.

The girls aren’t allowed to check the web for answers in, say, a maths exam.

The school requires pupils to cite all sources, in an effort to discourage plagiarism.

Dierdre Coleman, the English teacher behind the pilot, told the Sydney Morning Herald that children must prepare for real-world information access methods.

“What they will need to do is access information from all their sources quickly and they will need to check the reliability of their information,” she said.

Provided the pilot is successful, Presbyterian Ladies' College plans to expand the exam format out to all subjects by the end of 2008.

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